Arrest made in connection to fire at Highlands home

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 | 6:33 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A Columbia man was arrested Monday in connection with suspected arson at a home in southwest Columbia.

James Kevin Tharp, 56, of Columbia, was charged with first-degree arson. The Aug. 23 fire caused an estimated $20,000 in damage to the house at 1315 Dunbar Drive in the Highlands neighborhood.

Tharp was originally arrested Aug. 24, the day after the fire, Columbia Police Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said

After the fire, he spent time in the Mid-Missouri Mental Health Center, said James Weaver, Columbia Fire Department battalion chief.

Tharp was released Monday into the custody of Columbia police, then transferred to Boone County Jail, Stroer said.

Tharp was living in the basement of the home at the time of the fire, Stroer said.

Weaver said how the fire was started remained under investigation.

Tharp's bail was set at $20,000, according to a Columbia Fire Department news release.

The house is owned by Loretta and Andre Cote, according to the Boone County Assessor's website.

Supervising editor is Margaux Henquniet.

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